"What a marvellous player Janet Hilton is!"

Hi-Fi News and Record Review

(photograph: Clive Barda)



Clarinettist Janet Hilton enjoys worldwide recognition through her extensive series of recordings for Chandos, ASV, EMI, BBC Classics, Clarinet Classics and Naxos and appearances in many countries. She is best known as a soloist and in chamber music but her diverse career has encompassed orchestral playing and teaching.

Throughout her career her exceptional musicianship and the eloquence of her playing have constantly been reflected in reviews at home and abroad. The Financial Times praised “the rare lightness and grace” of her playing and “the rapt eloquence of her phrasing, shaped with the quiet freedom of a great singer.” The New York Times ascribed to her “the kind of musical power that supersedes mere nervous energy.” For the Guardian it was as “a soloist who has no inhibitions about communicating with her audience eloquently and directly in her own persona” that her performance was exceptional and Michael Kennedy, in the Sunday Telegraph, wrote of a “perfect a blend of emotion and technique” in a performance of the Brahms Clarinet Quintet.

Born in Liverpool Janet won a scholarship at the age of 15 to the Royal Manchester  (now Royal Northern) College of Music , where she studied clarinet and singing.  Another scholarship took her to Vienna for postgraduate study.

First prize in a national competition for artists at the beginning of their careers led to her BBC debut in the Mozart Clarinet Concerto and many more broadcasts, solo and chamber concerts throughout Britain. Building her career from this start, she has played throughout Britain at festivals including Edinburgh, Cheltenham, Aldeburgh, City of London and the BBC Proms, where she premiered the Clarinet Concerto by John McCabe. Her career-long partnership with the Lindsay String Quartet until their retirement included recordings of the quintets by Mozart, Weber, Brahms and Bliss. Other chamber music partners have been the Pauk, Kirshbaum, Frankl Trio, Steven Isserlis and Nobuko Imai. Her duo partnership with pianist Sarah Beth Briggs now extends to two trios, Clarion 3 with bassoonist Lawrence Perkins and the Stadler Trio with violist Robin Ireland. 

Her international solo career has taken her all over Europe, including an extensive tour of capitals and major cities with soprano Margaret Price, and to Canada and the USA , where for eighteen years she was a member of the Michigan-based Fontana ensemble at their summer festival.
Janet’s extensive discography includes concertos by Weber, Copland, Nielsen, Stanford, Malcolm Arnold, Gerald Finzi and four concertos written for her by John McCabe, Elizabeth Maconchy, Edward Harper and Alun Hoddinott. Her partners in these were the City of Birmingham Symphony, Royal Scottish National, Ulster, BBC Philharmonic and BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestras and the Bournemouth Sinfonietta , with conductors Neeme Jarvi, Mathias Bamert, Vernon Handley, Bryden Thomson , Rumon Gamba  and Norman del Mar. Her latest CD, for Naxos, of the clarinet sonatas by Max Reger, with the young German pianist Jakob Fichert, has been released for download and a CD will follow in 2010.
Other composers whom she has commissioned include Malcolm Arnold, Iain Hamilton Howard Blake and Paul Read.
Janet’s orchestral career has included positions as principal clarinet of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra , Welsh National Opera, Kent Opera and Manchester Camerata. For some time she was the London Sinfonietta ‘s regular saxophonist. While living in the USA she played regularly with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Minnesota.

A distinguished teacher, Janet has taught at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, the Royal Northern College of Music, the Birmingham Conservatoire  and, from 1998 Royal College of Music London where she was Head of Woodwind and director of the wind ensemble for ten years and still continues to teach.

Janet is in demand for master classes , including the Paris Conservatoire, the Cleveland Institute and University of Indiana Bloomington, USA, Malmö Conservatoire, the Royal Northern College of Music, Chethams and Wells Cathedral Schools, and as a member of international competition juries in Canada, Italy and Ireland.
She is a Fellow of the Royal College of Music and the Birmingham Conservatoire.
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"Rare lightness and grace, shaped with the quiet freedom of a great singer."

"A warm richness of tone, a felicity of phrasing, a rhythmic vivacity such as would not readily be surpassed by any other clarinettist."  

"What a marvellous player Janet Hilton is."  

"It was the sort of playing that makes you want to get up and dance." THE GUARDIAN

"So perfect a blend of emotion and experience that she inspired her colleagues to a performance of quite unusual musical intensity and pathos ..."

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  • 1998 - 2009:
    Head of Woodwind, Royal College of Music, London
  • 1993 - 1998:
    Head of Woodwind, Birmingham Conservatoire
Clarinet Tutor:
  • Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester
  • Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, Glasgow
  • Royal College of Music, London
  • Royal Northern College of Music
  • Trinity College of Music, London
  • Conservatoire National de Musique et de Danse, Paris
  • University of Bristol
  • University of Illinois, USA
  • University of Central Michigan, USA
  • Notre Dame University, USA
  • Cleveland Institute, USA (video masterclass)
  • University of Indiana, Bloomington
  • Singapore Conservatoire
  • Chethams School of Music
  • Wells Cathedral School
  • BBC Young Musician of the Year
  • National Federation of Music Societies Young Artists Award
  • Geoffrey Hawkes Clarinet Prize, Royal Academy of Music
  • Lombard and Ulster Music Foundation
  • Audi Young Musician
  • Music for Youth
  • Concerto Internazionale di Musica di Duino, Italy
  • Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Young Musician, Canada
  • Royal Overseas League Competition
  • Maisie Lewis Young Artists Award
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Mozart Clarinet Quintet in A K 591
Mozart String Quartet in A K 464

Janet Hilton, The Lindsays

Click on the sleeve to hear an extract from the Larghetto from Clarinet Quintet in A, K591 by Mozart in streamed RealAudio.

"Janet Hilton in ideally serene mellifluous form, is a continual delight" 
(Sunday Times)

“The Clarinet Quintet is given with the finesse and care for phrasing and articulation that has characterised all the recent Lindsay Mozart issues” 

Click here to view the full discography

New Releases

Buy Janet's CDs at tutti.co.uk

tutti.co.uk - CDs by Janet Hilton

Buy track downloads at classics online

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Contact Janet Hilton at:


Tel from UK:  020 7589 3643
From other countries:  (44) 20 7598 3643

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